Hidden Gem, A Scarecrow Cabernet at ⅓ its price


 
It was 1993 when Dave Decesaris, gazed into his crystal and spied Freemark Abbey, as Mesopotamian mythology’s controller of karma and time, he saw an opportunity and slyly orchestrated a chance meeting of Kathleen. Over a tasting of fine wine. They bonded and eventually married. Years later and after a lifetime of equally serendipitous moments, Dave and Kathleen discovered a property on Howell Mountain filled with promise but in need of tender loving care. They envisioned a winegrowing estate and began restoration to return the land to natural habitat and develop a vineyard to serve as inspiration for future vintages of Castiel Estate (pron. Cast-ee-all). They assembled a team to realize their vision, including winemaker Celia Welch (Scarecrow, Corra, Barbour, Keever, Rewa, etc) and ace and “guru” viticulturist Jim Barbour.

Castiel 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Howell Mountain
GGWC 179.99/bottle
FREE SHIPPING on 4 or more
Use code CASTIEL during checkout

Robert Parker 95+ Points: Deep garnet-purple, the Castiel Cabernet Sauvignon has a beguiling nose of baked blackcurrants, warm black plums and mulberries with touches of spice cake, forest floor, candied violets and dark chocolate. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is chock-full of earth-laced black fruits, with a firm, grainy frame and bags of freshness, finishing long and minerally. Impressive!”


Celia Welch Notes: “Hailing entirely from the rocky, elevated slopes of Howell Mountain, this 2018 Castiel Cabernet Sauvignon shows aromas of dark blackberry briars, espreso, earth, and just a very slight base note of sweet vanilla. On the palate, the immense structure of this wine is immediately apparent. Bright fruit combines with a core that shows density and strength. The tannins are plentiful but rounded, adding a sense of juiciness to the finish. This wine is clearly made to last. Three separate clones of Cabernet were harvested between October 1 and 6, 2017, and were kept separate through fermentation and for the first year of maturation in French oak barrels. The wines were carefully blended and returned to barrel for additional maturation prior to bottling in 2020.“

Also available in Magnums 

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A LIMITED Cali-Rhone Sensation, and we’ll throw in the shipping!

I was excited to hear that Prophetess was one of the top wines Robert Parker has ever tasted, and I have to wholeheartedly agree! Curt Schalchlin has been crafting some of the most amazing, well-priced, widely-praised Rhone blends for over a decade. His wines have made him (and me) many friends. The Prophetess bottling, Curt’ smallest bottling (215 cases only), sells out within weeks of its release! So don’t procrastinate!

Sans Liege XVIII/XIX Prophetess, Santa Barbara                     
GGWC 49.99  
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more!
Use code SANSLIEGE checkout

Winemaker Notes: “You sit among the night violets near a freshly fallen tree and stare up at the midnight sky, waiting. Scents of huckleberry, cinnamon plum and dusty stones hang in the air. The din of chattering campers in the distance diminishes as you cradle a mug of mocha to stay warm. You hear a pinecone fall and then nothing. Calmness spreads now throughout the valley allowing you to see the meaning which looms in the patterns of the stars.”

ALSO CHECK OUT:
SANS LIEGE CO-FERMENT OFFERING  SANTA BARBARA
GROUNDWORK 2019 GRENACHE BLANC
GROUNDWORK 2018 SYRAH
SANS LIEGE 2020 CÔTES DU COAST, WHITE BLEND

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The Pirates invaded us…. JUST IN TIME 4 Halloween!

Captain Heidi Barrett: “Avast, mateys – it’s a new vintage of Pirate TreasuRed! The first year I worked on this wine, 2007, the result was not what I expected, but something even better. Because the original blend used seven varietals, the ‘Treasure of the Seven Seas’ idea was a natural inspiration for the Pirate name. Each year the blend changes slightly – 2017 is the first time we used just 4 varietals , so this year, for the first time, we present the ‘Treasure of the Four Seas’! It’s a big, dark, raucous blend, completely mouth filling and bold, yet made with finesse. It’s been a wonderful 11 vintages of spreading good Pirate cheer and of course, simply the best grog this side of Davey Jones’ Locker. We hope you love this latest edition of Pirate TreasuRed. Arrrrrr!”

La Sirena 2017 Pirate TreasurRed, Napa Valley
GGWC 69.99
FREE SHIPPING on SIX or more
Use coupon code PIRATE during check out

The 2017 Pirate TreasuRed is a dense garnet colored wine with layered, complex aromas of both black and red fruit, accented with spice notes and hints of leather, fragrant cedar wood, and sweet tobacco. A complex blend with interesting layers playing off of each other – each component playing its part in the symphony. A silky rich explosion across the palate, with medium tannins that are well-integrated, and a lingering finish that will make you want to come back for more. This intriguing blend is truly yummy and fun to drink, perfect for pairing with a variety of full-flavored food or bringing a swashbuckling spirit to any party or gathering.

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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT-GGWC EXCLUSIVE FOR OCTOBER You’ve NEVER been “OFFERED” a wine like this!

Owner and Winemaker Curt Schalchlin has been producing high-quality Rhone blends at a very respectable price level for years. Curt worked for some of the best winemakers in industry and went solo about over a decade ago, and the rest is history. Today Sans Liege has a worldwide fan base among my clients, as far as Japan, Europe and South America. The 2019 Sans Liege “The Offering” is by far the best release to date!

Sans Liege 2019 GSM The “Co-Ferment” Offering
Santa Barbara

GGWC 32.00 NET ITEM
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code SANSLIEGE during check out

The Sans Liege The Co-Ferment” Offering (a blend of 53% Grenache, 37% Syrah,10% Mourvèdre) is a wine that captures the imagination and challenges expectations, it displays a beautiful purity and depth that is reminiscent of having a summer picnic in an ancient church. Resinous scents of black cherry cola, frankincense, fresh-peeled Clementine orange and vanilla extract lead to a well-structured and balanced palate of curried mix-berry cobbler, turmeric, dark chocolate cocoa nibs and black pepper with rocky, persistent tannins. Only 300 cases were produced!!

Winemaker Notes: The crisp air begins to make its way through your flannel as you slip your hatchet into a suede holster at your side. Collecting several pieces of freshly split red fir, you make your way towards the warm glow of the cabin. Once inside you smell green peppercorn and drying oregano – a basket of harvested rhubarb sits on the kitchen counter and lingonberry sauce simmers on the old stove. You settle into a cozy, velvet covered armchair and smile with anticipation for your holiday guests

Vineyard Sources:
Grenache: Kopack, Derby, Old Potrero; Syrah: White Hawk, Old Potrero; Mourvèdre: Alta Mesa

ALSO CHECK OUT :
SANS LIEGE PROPHETESS XVII SANTA BARBARA
GROUNDWORK 2019 GRENACHE BLANC
GROUNDWORK 2017 SYRAH
SANS LIEGE 2020 CÔTES DU COAST, WHITE BLEND

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A 94 Point, Below the radar Pinot Noir


 

Spear is a family owned, sustainable and certified organic vineyard nestled in the heart of the Sta. Rita Hills Appellation. At Spear, the hope is to craft wines that transparently communicate their estate vineyard’s voice with the utmost lucidity and sincerity. Vigneron Ofer Shepher’s interest in the local wine community germinated very early on and continued to resonate within him throughout his college and post-college career. Weekend camping trips to the Santa Ynez Valley sparked an unyielding desire to pursue coastal wines. He began his winemaking studies at Davis in 2004, which propelled a move to the historic Gnesa Ranch in 2005. Being surrounded by the Santa Rita Hills was truly inspirational from a viticultural and enological standpoint. From that moment forward, Ofer’s sole focus was the Santa Rita Hills appellation. He spent the next seven years patiently searching for what would prove to be the ideal location to plant and build his dream vineyard and winery. 

Spear 2019 Pinot Noir, Estate Santa Rita Hills
GGWC 49.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12
Use code SPEAR during checkout

Winemaker Notes: “Aromas of bing cherry, boysenberry and cola on the nose. Red currant and pomegranate on the palate. The mouthfeel is supple and refined. Blend of clones 2A, 115, 667, 943, Pommard and Swan.

Jeb Dunnuck 94 Points: “ The light medium ruby-hued 2019 Pinot Noir Estate shows the soft, elegant, seamless style of the vintage nicely and is well worth seeking out. Medium-bodied aromas and flavors of black raspberries, spice, game, and some earthy nuances emerge from this pure, balanced, incredibly compelling Pinot Noir that will evolve for 5-7 years.”

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HOT FROM THE PRESS: A Casual (Wine) Encounter… VERY LIMITED!!


 

Herman Syrah is the “story” of tall tales, Wrangler Jeans, and bold wines crafted by Russell P. From. This winery has become a real head-turner since it was created a little over a decade ago. Russell is a real “Rhone Ranger” and that has not escaped the notice of numerous publications garnering many 94-97 point ratings and creating a real “cult-like” following. Casual Encounters takes its name from the orgiastic nature of its origins as a blend of small co- fermented lots. By giving up control and embracing game-day decisions during harvest, Casual Encounters best captures the lengths Russell will go in setting orthodoxy aside and letting flavor take full stage.

Herman Story 2019 GSM “Casual Encounters”
Paso Robles

GGWC 59.99
FREE SHIPPING on 12 or more
Use code HERMANSTORY during checkout

More inky colored, the Casual Encounters checks in as 40% Mourvédre, 36% Syrah, 19% Grenache, 5% Carignan, and tiny amounts of Carignan and Tannat. Lots of mulled black fruits, smoked meat, barbecue, and peppery notes emerge from the glass. It’s full-bodied, super-rich, and concentrated, yet still stays light on its feet and beautifully balanced. It’s a classic, sweetly fruited, sexy wine to enjoy over the coming 5-7 years or so.

Winemaker Notes: That courtside seat wasn’t occupied, so why not? You grab caramel corn, violet-tinged drinks, and rosemary-laden hors d’oeuvres from waiters bearing platters. You slap five with the players after their soaring dunks. And right next to you, there’s an actress whose name you can’t recall, clad in a black truffle dress and blueberry sapphires. This is a good life. Until the kiss cam finds you. The crowd bellows. The actress looks your way. And you’ve had three too many raspberry daiquiris, so you lean in, hardly noticing her muscle-bound date on their way. DRINK NOW: Decant for 45 minutes CELLAR: Now through 6-8 Years

Also check out these other great Herman Story wines

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In their 20th Anniversary, Coho releases its best Cabernet EVER, 96 Points, ONLY 147 cases produced


 

COHO is the aspiration of vintner Gary Lipp to produce flavorful, balanced wines. Grown in select cool-climate vineyards, COHO wines emphasize fruit purity and vitality. Gary has worked for California wineries for almost thirty-five years: involved in all aspects of the craft, acquiring the skills to bottle his passion.

The choice of COHO as the name of the brand might seem curious as it doesn’t invoke images of vineyards or wine, but to us the salmon embodies an innate wisdom so essential to understanding ourselves and our environment. As stewards of the land winemakers must strive to sustain our habitat and the species that share it. And like the salmon we need the steadfast will to keep going no matter how difficult the journey.

Founded in 2002, COHO makes wines that are easy to enjoy, full of flavor and reasonably priced. COHO has garnered recognition from the press, wine trade, and wine lovers for the quality and value of unique and well-priced wines.

COHO 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Retail  79.99 –  GGWC 74.99
FREE SHIPPING on 6
Use code COHO during checkout

FMW 96 Points: This might be the best Cabernet Sauvignon COHO has produced yet to date. A blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon (Sugarloaf) and 6% Petit Verdot (Chinn Vineyard). On the nose this wine shows its great character immediately. One is greeted by lush black currants and plums, hints of bittersweet chocolate and mocha and a whiff of anise. The palate of this multi-layered wine is amazingly polished and well-balanced. Gobs of black currant and chocolate coat this intense sultry body, leading into a very complex and long fish. This incredible undertaking will turn lots of heads! As always, very limited – ONLY 147 cases were produced! 

Also check out:
COHO 2016 Merlot “Michael Black” Coombsville, Napa Valley
COHO 2016 Headwaters Proprietary Red, Napa Valley 93 Points
COHO 2017 Pinot Noir “Stanly Ranch” Carneros Napa Valley

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Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation

A 97 Point “Whale of a Wine” but sadly… A TINY PRODUCTION


 

Bibiana González Rave is the founder and winemaker of Cattleya Wines. She is also the wife of star winemaker Jeff Pisoni. Born and raised in Colombia and trained as a winemaker in France, she moved to California in 2007 to settle into making extraordinary wines. In her words: “Since my early teenage years, my dream has been to make wine. At a very young age I was fortunate enough to begin learning how to make wine in France. I trained myself while working with some amazing winemakers who showed me the importance of loving the land, how to respect the farming itself, and to focus on the many details that go into making each drop of wine in each and every bottle.” She also made the wines at Pahlmeyer, and produces “Shared Notes” wines with husband Jeff Pisoni. All those ingredients together and you have one of the best winemakers in the country!

Cattleya 2019 Pinot Noir “Belly of the Whale” Petaluma Gap, Sonoma
GGWC 84.99 net item

Jeb Dunnuck 97 Points: “Coming from the Sonoma Coast, the 2019 Pinot Noir Belly Of The Whale is a more reserved, inward, and focused wine offering a beautiful blend of spiced red and black fruits intermixed with bouquet garni, crushed stone, and exotic spice-like aromas and flavors. More medium-bodied on the palate, it has a wonderful mid-palate, building yet perfectly ripe tannins, no hard edges, and a great, great finish. This is another remarkable wine from Bibiana González Rave. It will benefit from 2-3 years of bottle age and cruise for 10-15 years in cool cellars. Bravo!”

Bibiana’s Notes: ”The perfect combination of two distinct clones (50/50 of 777 and 667) has produced a Pinot Noir of unparalleled purity and depth of flavor. Enticing aromas of black cherry, baking spice and fig fill the air, as strawberry compote, plum, and Asian spice envelop the palate. In its infancy, this wine’s complex structure and bright acidity ensure a long life ahead.”

Also check out these other GREAT wines made by Bibiana Gonzalez Rave:
Cattleya 2019 Pinot Noir Cuvee #1
Cattleya 2019 Chardonnay Beyond TheThreshold
Cattleya 2018 Syrah”Initiation” 97 Points
Cattleya 2018 Cabernet “The Mentor” 98 Points
Cattleya 2018 Chardonnay Cuvee #5 – 94 POINTS
Cattleya 2020 Alma de Cattleya Sauvignon Blanc
Shared Notes 2020 Sauvignon Blanc Les pierres qui décident
Shared Notes 2020 Sauvignon Blanc Les Leçons des maîtres

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Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation

Carte Blanche Cabernet 97+ Points = “THE” Haut-Brion from Napa (really)


 

After the great  success with her own Keplinger label, Helen Keplinger is out of control (in a very good way)! The latest release of the 2018 Carte Blanche Cabernet showcases Helen’s amazing talents. Only a few hundred cases of this mind boggling wine were produced from this “next” Haut Brion of the Napa Valley! This wine over-delivers and the 97+ points is 2 ½ points shy of what it deserves!

The Dillon family has been in the wine business for nearly a century, since Nick Allen’s great grandfather, Clarence Dillon, acquired Chateau Haut-Brion in 1935 and the family company, Domaine Clarence Dillon subsequently purchased Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion in 1983. This was Nick’s inspiration to produce his own boutique label in Napa – Carte Blanche.

Carte Blanche 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer” Napa Valley
GGWC 154.99 net item

Robert Parker 97+ Points: “The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard is made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Featuring a deep garnet-purple color, it sashays out of the glass with gregarious notions of baked plums, warm cassis and blueberry compote with suggestions of kirsch, dusty soil and Indian spices. The palate is full-bodied and laden with bright, lively, energetic black fruits, supported with firm, super ripe tannins and finishing on a persistent exotic spice note.”


Jeb Dunnuck 97 Points: “Lastly, the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard comes from a great site in Oakville that continues to fly slightly under the radar yet produces brilliant wines. Incredible cassis, graphite, damp earth, and violet notes emerge from the glass, and this full-bodied beauty offers plenty of high-end oak, ripe, seamless tannins, and flawless balance. It just screams of Cabernet. There’s no harm drinking bottles today, but I’d nevertheless recommend a solid 4-5 years of bottle age. It should keep for two-plus decades.”

Winery Notes: “The 2018 Carte Blanche Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% varietal makeup. Sitting in the southwest corner of Oakville and at the base of the Mayacamas, Missouri Hopper Vineyard, owned by Andy Beckstoffer, is the home of our Cabernet Sauvignon. A super perfumed nose shows violets, red currant, black cherry, and boysenberry, underpinned by savory graphite and beautiful cassis.  A silky and plush entry opens broadly across the palate showing high notes of red currant and hints of cherry, to dark fruited blackberry and boysenberry, all seamlessly integrated with forest floor, graphite and cacao woven through the everlasting finish”

Helen Keplinger (winemaker) Notes: “Stunning color in the glass, an electrifying nose showcases black currants, cassis, cigar box and red fruit. The palate is opulent, plush and structured with integrated sweet tannins showcasing notes of dark blackberry, black cherry, and bittersweet chocolate dance through an everlasting and strong finish.”

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Call 415-337-4083 or email frank@goldengatewinecellars.com for availability and priority allocation

WINE AND MUSIC PAIRING: A NEXT-LEVEL AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE

WINE AND MUSIC PAIRING: A NEXT-LEVEL AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE

By Dwight Furrow
from Edible Arts
 
The evidence that pairing music with wine can enhance one’s tasting experience continues to mount since I last visited this topic in 2017. A research team headed by Q.J. Wang showed that, in a winery tasting room, wines tasted with a soundtrack chosen to enhance oak-derived flavors were rated as significantly fruitier and smoother than the same wines tasted in silence. Master of Wine, Susan Lin wrote her thesis on the effects of music on the taste and mouthfeel of Brut Non-Vintage Champagne. And Jo Burzynska’s published research includes a paper entitled “Tasting the Bass,” which investigates the effects of lower frequency sound on the perceived weight and body of a New Zealand Pinot Noir and a Spanish Garnacha. The study also measured the influence of pitch on aromatic intensity and the perception of acidity.

This recent research is on top of the earlier studies in which test subjects show statistically significant agreement about which wine goes best with music samples presented to them (cross-modal correspondence); and that the right music can influence specific aspects of the tasting experience, such as perception of sweetness, flavor notes, perceived acidity, and level of astringency (cross-modal influence).

For instance, in one study by British music psychologist Adrian North, subjects were offered a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Chardonnay. After rating the wines along four dimensions—powerful and heavy, subtle and refined, zingy and refreshing, and mellow and soft—they tasted the wines while listening to music chosen to highlight each dimension. Both wines were scored significantly higher on the powerful/heavy metric by those who listened to the powerful/heavy music (Orff’s Carmina Burana) and the same effect was found with the other dimensions tested. The music had similar effects on both red and white wines and was independent of whether the subjects liked the wine. There is now almost 30 years of research leading to the same conclusion. Music can enhance our appreciation of wine. This is not surprising given the evidence that all variety of environmental and contextual factors from weather to the sound of popping a cork influence the taste of a wine.

The debates about why wine and music pairing works are ongoing. Perhaps music directs our attention to specific properties of the wine. Perhaps music influences our mood making us more sensitive to olfactory and flavor stimulation. Perhaps specific musical pieces and particular wines share a common metaphorical attribute that the music primes us to perceive in the wine. Perhaps the congruence between a wine and a musical piece helps us more efficiently process the faint and complex sensory signals we get from a wine. My sense is that all of these factors are at work.

But I want to focus on why pairing wine and music is worth doing. We routinely pair wine with food, a practice that some people find fraught with worries about doing it right. Why add music pairing to the tasting experience? The importance of providing the right background music in restaurants and tasting rooms is clear. But why should individual consumers think about the music that accompanies their enjoyment of a wine?

Sonic Seasoning

One reason is obvious. If music can influence positively or negatively how we experience a wine, it is important to avoid music that will damage one’s tasting experience. The quickest route to disappointment in that elegant, well-aged Chateau Margaux 2000 that sells in the neighborhood of $1000 per bottle is to pair it with music from early Nine Inch Nails, even if you really like Nine Inch Nails. Pairing it with a sonata for piccolo would be even more damaging. The wrong music can make a wine taste thin, harsh, or clunky.

But there are positive reasons for pairing wine with music. The empirical research makes clear that music can influence how we perceive a wine’s balance—the relationship between fruit or sweetness, acidity, tannins, and alcohol. A Cabernet Sauvignon that is rough and astringent can appear more elegant and supple when paired with music that matches the wine’s intensity and power. A too-tart Sauvignon Blanc might acquire a hint of sweetness when paired with the right Prélude from Debussy. Most of us cannot afford to drink wines that are exquisitely harmonious except on special occasions. Most everyday wines are less than perfectly balanced and applying the “sonic seasoning” of an appropriately paired piece of music improves the experience. Music cannot add something to a wine that is not there—it won’t make a simple wine more complex or extend the finish of a fruity Beaujolais Nouveau. It won’t dramatically boost the aromatic intensity of a mute wine or turn sandpaper into silk. But it will shift the balance point of a wine toward better integration by shifting our attention to a wine’s strengths while suppressing its flaws.

But music and wine pairing is not limited to improving budget wines. Even wines that are well balanced benefit from congruent music that shares textural features and emotional resonance with the wine.

Harmony and Integration

In order to understand how music pairing can enhance quality wine, we need to make a distinction between balance and harmony. Although there are exceptions, most premium wines (priced above about $20) produced for immediate consumption are balanced. They have an appropriate relationship between the structural components of the wine, so nothing stands out as too much. This is not to say every individual will find every wine balanced. We all have our individual preferences and winemakers will have their own aesthetic aims they seek to achieve. But most premium wines today fall within an acceptable range, regarding their balance, given what is typical for the varietal, region, style, and vintage.

But a balanced wine is not necessarily a harmonious wine.

Many wines are balanced but don’t leave an impression of cohesive activity. The structural elements of the wine stay out of the way of each other and nothing stands out as “too much,” but there is little impression of interaction among the elements. By contrast some wines will seem alive because their components are interacting, accentuating each other but in a way that seems notably consonant. That is harmony. When the acidity is freshening the fruit and the fruit is softening the angularity of the acidity and the dryness of the tannins; and when the tannins provide a foundation that lengthens the taste experience, the wine evolving through many stages with no jarring sensations in the transitions, that is the beginning of harmony. But just the beginning.

Harmony is intimately related to complexity. When wines are simple there is not much there to harmonize. But when complexity is added to the picture the possibility of a unified story, a larger whole that the elements contribute to, emerges. Great wines have tension and paradox. They display nervous energy yet feel fluent and supple. They exhibit power and delicacy, profundity, and charm. Yet, despite the contrasts, it all feels well put together in a unified whole effortlessly achieved.

Pairing wine with the right music can make a balanced wine seem harmonious and make a harmonious wine really sing. The structure of the wine seems to have more activity and integration. The music helps draw the structural components together, so they seem like they are communicating with each other. Even excellent wines benefit from being paired with music.

Affective Engagement

We know that music is effectively absorbing. Our internal states resonate with music. Unlike vision’s sense of touching things out there, at a distance from one’s lived center, sonorous experience is of events that seem to happen within consciousness. Although we are aware that the sound might be coming from an object, we experience the sound as taking place within us because, in a sense, it is taking place inside us. And because sound is fleeting and always changing, the experience of sound requires a relationship of openness and empathy in order to follow it. Listening to music is a form of participation. If the music is pleasant it can generate a feeling of merging with the music rather than separation from it. Thus, it is common when listening to music to feel that one’s internal states are in some sort of sympathetic motion with the music. Calm music can make us feel calm. Energetic music makes us want to move, etc. These are often unconscious effects. Music seems to directly influence the motor cortex of the brain and the parts of our nervous system that regulate mood. Sometimes we may experience particular emotions or moods when listening to music but often it’s just a feeling of our internal affective states being attuned to the music, of being caught up in and participating in the music’s motion.

As I argued in more detail in Beauty and the Yeast, we can have similar experiences with wine although they are less accessible than with music. Wine does not affect the motor cortex in the way music does. But, nevertheless, we can gain a sense of intimacy with the evolution of a wine and the changes in its textural properties because, of course, the wine is literally inside us as well. Because wine shares with music this capacity to create a sense of intimacy, congruence between a wine and specific musical works enhance that sense of intimacy. This is not about making the wine better. The wine is perfectly fine on its own. It is about making our experience of it more vibrant, intimate, and less distant. The focus and quality of our attention to a wine is enhanced by music, and the more levels of correspondence there are between the wine and the music the more engrossing the experience is.

Enhanced Understanding of Wine

One by-product of this effective engagement and sense of integration is that music can help us better understand the structure of a wine. Pairing music with wine is not a mechanical process and subtle differences in wines can require different pairing strategies. I have never found a foolproof way of predicting what will work ahead of time and there is a good deal of trial and error in finding a good match. By trying out various possibilities for which piece of music is most congruent with a wine, we often discover something we hadn’t noticed about the wine’s structure. We learn which structural element of the wine is in danger of being out of balance and discover hidden dimensions of a wine that the right piece of music can make more available. Complex wines have more going on in them than we can take in with one sniff or taste and will show different dimensions over the course of an evening or with the right food. Adding music to the mix increases the factors that can expose these various dimensions.

A More Holistic Experience

Finally, in traditional aesthetics we tend to focus on a single sensory object as the locus of aesthetic attention. But the confluence of many sensory objects that create an atmosphere also has aesthetic properties. Adding the appropriate music to a gathering where people are interacting, enjoying food and wine, situated at a time of day, within a seasonal weather pattern, in an appealing visual context, all of which have meaning for the assembled creates a multisensory, holistic experience that ought to receive more attention as an aesthetic object. The wine and the music together are an integral part of that experience.

Wine and music have parallels and similarities that make them natural partners in creating aesthetic experiences. Next month I will explain how to begin pairing wine with music.
 

 

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